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Source: DE/PA-AA/R14086
Central register: 1915-A-19605
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
Date of entry in central register: 06/22/1915 p.m.
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Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

From Johannes Lepsius to the Foreign Office

Privat Correspondence

Potsdam, June 22, 1915

According to information from the Imperial Ambassador in his telegram of 31 May, Enver Pasha plans "to settle in Mesopotamia those families from the presently insurgent Armenian centres who are not irreproachable."

As I have already stated in my letter dated 18 June, this is not a case of deporting individual families, but rather of mass deportations of large parts of the Armenian population from Anatolian areas and from Cilicia to various districts, especially to Mesopotamia.

These measures cannot be justified for military reasons. They are out of all proportion to the unimportant reasons which motivated them. They are also in contradiction to the official statement made by the Turkish Government on 4 June (W.T.B. W.T.B. = Wolffs Telegraphisches Büro [Wolff's Telegraph Office], the official German news agency. from Constantinople) that "the Armenians from Erzurum, Derdjan, Egin, Sasun, Bitlis, Mush and Cilicia were not subjected to any measures whatsoever by the Imperial authorities, because they had committed no acts which would disturb the public law and peace." For mass deportations have also taken place in these areas and they are gradually being extended to all the Armenian areas. Even the passage, "If certain Armenians had to be removed from their places of residence, this was done because they lived in a war-zone," cannot be used as a lever, for generally speaking this concerns areas which lie in central Anatolia, far from the war-zone.

The news so far is that until now about 200,000 Armenians have been affected by the deportation measures. The areas of the upper Euphrates River (Erzindjan, Kamakh, Baiburt), the Taurus and Amanus area (Zeitun, Hadjin, Aintab, Marash) and Cilicia are named in particular. In other areas such as Erzurum the same measures are being prepared. As the Greek population in the villages of Thracia between Adrianople and the Sea of Marmara was also deported, this is obviously an attempt to decimate the Christian population in the empire as far as possible under the veil of martial law and by putting to use the Muslim elation aroused by the holy war, abandoning it to extermination by carrying it off to climatically unfavourable and unsafe districts along the border.

Here is an example of how this is carried out. Of the approx. 27000 inhabitants of Zeitun in the Taurus Highlands, the male population was deported to the hot Euphrates marshes of Der-el-Zor, right in the middle of Arabic Bedouin tribes (500 kilometres to the south-east), while the women, girls and children on the other hand were transported to the Angora area (500 kilometres to the north-east); thus, the men were separated from their families by 1,000 kilometres. During transportation the young girls were abducted to Turkish harems and the women were exposed to violation in the Mohammedan villages. While 20,000 Turkish pounds were transferred by the government to make Mohammedan Bosnian settlements in the evacuated area of Zeitun, the Armenians were robbed of their possessions and sent to foreign parts without any means.

Such measures, which are paralleled only in the deportations of the ancient Assyrians, cannot be justified by military purposes; rather, they amount to the veiled massacre of Christians. It is expected that their expanse will surpass the massacres at the time of Abdul Hamid.

I consider it my duty to point out the consequences of these Turkish measures.

1. As soon as the facts are made public in Europe and the United States, they will not only "once again cause great agitation in all of the world which is our enemy and be used against us," as the Ambassador already assumed in his dispatch of 4 June, but they will also evoke an indignation in the entire Protestant Church of Germany which cannot be moderated by the most sincere sympathy with the Turkish people.

2. Because of the extermination policy of the present Turkish rulers, a hatred will be systematically bred against Turkey in the entire Armenian nation (i.e., 2 million Russian and 2 million Turkish Armenians) which is only in the interests of the Entente powers and which must be extremely damaging to Germany's influence on the economic development in Turkey which rests, for the most part, on the shoulders of the Armenians. For example, the evacuation of the Armenians in Cilicia has left the German companies there (cotton companies and so on) with no workers whatsoever.

3. It is inevitable in a country in which the government has always used terrorist means that the policy of extermination drives those affected to become terrorists themselves. It must not be forgotten that there is a strong and dangerous opposition to the present government among the Turkish and Arab subjects, and the previously loyal Turkish Armenians are being driven into its arms. As the Turkish opposition (the Liberal Union) is working with the Entente, it is in our urgent political interest not to drive the Turkish Armenians to a terrorist opposition and to allow them to escape German influence. About 120 leaders of the Dashnaksagans, who were quite loyal, were placed under arrest, and it is feared that they will all be executed. The elimination of these loyal intellectuals will give the terrorist elements among the Russian Armenians a free hand, and in Turkey as well.

The loyal Armenian Committees have made requests through the corresponding ambassadors to the American, Bulgarian and Greek governments to use their influence in favour of the Armenians. These have all replied concurringly that it is only the German government, which is in a position to put a stop to this evil, because it alone has influence on the Turkish government and, thus, is also made jointly responsible from abroad for the internal state of affairs in Turkey.

D. Johannes Lepsius
[Note by Zimmermann, June, 22]

Transcript of Pera No. 494 respectfully sent for your kind attention and it is left to your discretion to comment.

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